Llew Rockwell aims for the heart of libertarianism in The Future of Libertarianism exposing a current debate over the identity of libertarians and the differences between “thick” and “thin” libertarianism as they seem to distinguish themselves today. I shake my head at both sides because they are talking past eachother.
At that point, the question would become: to which principle are thick libertarians more committed, nonaggression or egalitarianism? What if they had to choose?
“What if they had no choice?” — asks the “ugly” libertarian.
It is clear that the “thick” libertarians are in opposition to “patriarchy, hierarchy, inequality, and so on.” in spirit. Those social orders are anathema to the “thick” libertarians. They seem to promote diversity in a very blandly happy way. They can not imagine such things manifesting themselves in a completely non-aggressive society.
The “thin” libertarians should recognize the presence of coersion in “patriachy, hierarcy, inequality, and so on.” as it manifests itself in real life and agree with the “thick” libertarians with the following caveat: Let such societies be free to conduct themselves in the manner of their choosing however it may outwardly appear provided each individual is free to leave peacefully and is never misled to stay.
Then the “thick” libertarians will pounce: “Yeah, but patriarchal societies brainwash their kids and so, they are not REALLY free!”
I suggest the “thin” libertarian should step on middle ground by agreeing: “Yeah, that seems unfair but we both agree that freedom means freedom from violence, theft and fraud, right? Brainwashing is fraud. So, we are in agreement.” Then try to convince the “thick” libertarian that pure voluntaryist free societies could conceivably manifest themselves overtly as “patriarchy, hierarchy, inequality, and so on.” out of fully-informed choice.
Some women like to wear the pants and some men do not.
Some people like television and some people like reading.
Some people like both and have to make choices.
Equality is a nonsensical concept and has only merit as a rhetorical trick to stifle debate by confusing opponents in discussion. Equality is meaningless because preferences and “utility” in common parlance are not inter-personally comparable in any way at all.
I am a libertarian who is perfectly fine with “patriarchy, hierarchy, inequality, and so on.” if they manifest themselves freely. I see nothing wrong with a woman submitting to a man or vice versa if they so choose. The role of the libertarian is to expose when these social arrangements are based on people being coerced, tricked or misled with false information. I expect both “thick” and “thin” libertarians to share that sentiment.
I think it is highly likely that “inequality” in societies continue to develop and the good ones will survive. The good ones are communities where all members are free to oppose the “patriarchy, hierarchy, inequality, and so on.” under which they live without fear of violence and yet they choose to stay because they prefer it.
I would like to offer a 3rd type of libertarian: the “ugly” libertarian.
I am a pessimist. With enough time, the Earth’s resources will be depleted and our affluent lifestyle will no longer be possible on such a large scale as it is now. I do not believe the future looks bright for most of the people on this planet. I suspect that the rest of the animal and plant kingdoms could manage to scrape by in some capacity longer than we. Some of us will have to meet them half-way.
If there ever is to be a hypothetical Libertarianism Of The Future that spreads across the entire human race, I am sorry to say that the only logical one to expect is where we are all reduced to scrounging animals. We will be defacto egalitarian because nobody will have the energy to fight.